We perceive blue to be everywhere, from the sky to the oceans but it also happens blue animals are the rarest that we come across naturally using. Of all colors, blue is the rarest pigments to appear on the skin, scales, feathers, fur, and the exoskeleton of creatures around us.
Microscopic structure in the skin, scales, shells, feathers are the reasons for these blue animals and at times they take on this color because of things that they eat.
Even in the plant kingdom, blue is extremely rare with a mere 10% of flowering plants on the planet producing blue blooms. Melanin is a common pigment produced by creatures and causes the black or brown in the skin and fur of animals and also in feathers.
Carotenoids produce orange and red in both algae and plants. Their hunter, the lobsters, and shrimps get their distinctive colors. They pick the colors of the flamingos that also come from the shrimp they heat.
While thanks to the presence of anthocyanins, the color blue is more common in plant life, blue animals and birds are a rarity. The rare instance of blue coloring in animals is the outcome of selective reflection and iridescence, both of which are structural effects.
The beautiful blue jay produces melanin. This is a dark pigment, so logic follows that the wings should be black. But tiny air traps inside the feathers disperse and make it seem blue to the person watching it.
So logically the colors of the Cyanocitta cristata can be reverted to the original black merely by altering the structure of the bird’s feathers. This is observed when the feathers of the blue jay get damaged and appear in a darker shade as the scattering of light gets disrupted.
The Longest Living Of The Blue Animals
Found in the Grand Cayman island, the blue iguana, also known as the Grand Cayman ground iguana, has perhaps the longest lifespan among lizards. It can live to an incredible 69 years.
They aren’t blue when they are born, having an intricate pattern on their skin, but only a few parts having a pale blue-grey color. But with maturity, they turn blue. But then they can change their colors to match their surroundings and their habitat.
Only when there are among others of their species, the blue iguana (Cyclura lewisi) will take on its natural blue color either as a way to communicate or to mark its territory. The male iguana has a more distinct blue than the female of the species.
The Blue Animals Of The Sea
The blue sea dragons (Glaucus atlanticus) are a unique species of sea slug found mostly in tropical water. This blue animal looks straight out of a Pokemon game but the cute looks should not mislead you. It packs a deadly venom that it acquires from its prey, the Portuguese man o’ war.
The blue dragons float on its belly and prey on the blue bottle jellyfish. The sea dragon is only an inch long and has incredible camouflaging abilities. While its underside allows it to blend with the sea, the silver side floating downwards hides it from underwater attackers.
The Mandarin Dragonet
The Synchiropus splendid, a brilliantly colored fish is found in the Pacific and is arguably one of the most beautiful fish in the world. But this blue animal has much more going for it.
There are common in the inshore reefs and sheltered lagoons of the Pacific Ocean. They range from the Ryukyu Islands to the west coast of Australia. They have tiny spines that can poison anyone trying to handle it.
The fish is one of just two confirmed blue animals that can produce a blue coloring. The fish produces cyanophores, blue pigmented light-reflecting cells to achieve its vibrant blue color.
A vast majority of blue animals on the planet resort to elaborate optical illusions to brighten themselves. A microscopic layer of colorless crystals in their skin is layered to reflect blue light to the onlooker.
The Blue Poison Dart Frog
The (Dendrobates tinctorius ‘azureus’) are the most poisonous of the blue animals and one of the most poisonous species on earth. Their toxin has no antidote and this blue animal is present in the dense forests of northern Brazil and southern Suriname.
The bright blue colors of the frog immediately warn predators before it even gets close to it. Venom from these frogs was used to poison arrows by local tribes. A cell layer named xanthophores produces a yellow color and is on the top followed by another cell layer called the iridophores.
The light that falls on the skin of the frog permeates to the iridophores which disseminate the blue layer of light through their xanthophores.
The Blue Morpho
The Blue Morpho butterfly belongs to the genus Morpho and is commonly known as blue morphos. They are noted for their blue wings and are one of the more aesthetic blue animals. Their structure imparts the blue colors to the butterfly. These nano-structures on their scales cause the light to scatter and make them seem blue.
These nanostructures are present only on the upper (dorsal) side of the wings of the Blue Morpho. The lower (ventral) side remains brown. The males are bluer than the females.
The Blue Lizards Of The Middle East: The Sinai Agama
Found in the deserts in the Middle East, the blue lizards or Sinai agama (Pseudotrapelus sinaitus) is typically brown that helps them to merge in with the desert surroundings. But during the mating season, the males take on a blue hue to attract the females. That makes these blue animals one of the rare reptiles with this color. The females stay brown with red markings.
The Blue Sea Star
This blue seas star (Linckia laevigata) is found in the tropical seas of the Indo-Pacific. This creature is striking in its blue colors that range in hue from light to dark. At times orange and pink ones are found among them. These blue animals produce linckiacyanin, a carotenoprotein, which gives it the blue color.
The Carpathian Blue Slug
Common to the Carpathian Mountains of Eastern Europe, the Bielzia coerulans is a slug that is not blue throughout its growth stages. They are yellowish-brown as juveniles, while adults vary in shades from black and blue to bluish-green.
The Indian Peacock
The most legendary of the blue animals, the Indian peafowl (Pavo cristatus) has an iconic stature in the mythology of the whole Indian subcontinent. Its intricate bright-colored feathers contain multiple hues of blue, green, and every shade in between. The peacocks have an elaborate courtship ritual where they display their full range of colors to attract the peahen. The color is a derivative of melanin, the black pigment. Their feathers also possess a crystalline mesh of microscopic light-reflecting rods that makes them appear blue.